I have often been accused by the editor of this magazine of having an uncanny memory. That’s probably only half right.
Living through 25 years of the streaming industry helps with recall, but so does being good at quick computer searches. I have a tendency to hoard emails, text messages, and business receipts, which comes in handy when every new company touts “first ever” or “pioneer” for something that’s been done many times before. Advancements in OCR guarantee that I’ll be able to extract words and phrases from trip photos and trade show receipts for years to come, jogging my memory about locations and dates where key conversations took place.
One such conversation centers on the 2004 arrival of this magazine’s editor, Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen, on the streaming scene. From 1997 to 2001, I’d written for several industry publications, including Streaming Media, but in the post-9/11 landscape, I shifted away from writing and consulting in the streaming industry to focus on teaching college-level courses on topics from my prior career (codecs, compositing, special effects, and crisis management public relations).
At the request of a multinational corporation that had been a prior client, I started consulting again in late 2003, naming my company Transitions as a nod toward the move back into the consulting field. Shortly after that, I got an email from Eric.
While the magazine had gone through a succession of editors at a fairly fast clip between 2001 and 2004, and Eric had not been through the first wave of streaming hype and overpromises, he was interested in bringing on a consistent stable of contributing editors to Streaming Media Magazine and StreamingMedia.com.
That group of writers included Christine Perey, Dom Robinson, Jan Ozer, and a few others. Eric told me I could write a column on whatever I’d like, which led to Streams of Thought and my license to write this seemingly random column today. The majority of this writing stable has continued with him for the past 18 years, taking us through the first and second decades of streaming media as an industry and Streaming Media as a magazine.
Along the way, Eric provided a sense of stability in an ever-morphing industry that was fundamentally changing the way that we consumed content. And in late 2018, he was there to help assist in the creation of the industry’s first charity, the Help Me Stream Research Foundation, which I run as executive director.
Eric was also instrumental in shaping conversations around power and sustainability. In 2020, he asked Robinson and me to co-author an article titled “The Greening of Streaming”, which has turned into a movement that had a public launch event at the U.K. Parliament in June 2022. Ever one to keep his finger on the pulse of what’s needed, Eric also asked me—as one of his last editorial assignments before handing the magazine’s reins over to another highly qualified editor, Steve Nathans-Kelly—to write an article on cradle-to-grave sustainability that you’ll read elsewhere in this issue.
Our conversations haven’t always been about the industry, and for that I’ve also been grateful. I remember one conversation on a particularly brisk mid-October 2009 walk through Hammersmith in London that ranged from religion to religiosity and from charlatans seeking power to charlatans seeking to perpetuate their power. Those kinds of conversations, even where we strongly disagree on both the premise and the endgame, are one part professional friendship and one part civil discourse, which is often lacking on social media and naturally emerges from face-to-face discussions.
As Eric does his own transition, stepping away from the magazine and online news portions of Streaming Media and into an industry position that he’s a custom fit for, I’m delighted to know that the stability he created will continue going forward. Eric will also keep chairing the Streaming Media conferences for the foreseeable future, which means we’ve not yet seen the last of him, and the industry will be better for that.